Payette Awarded Perpetual Wine Grape Productivity Tray

Jul 25

The Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association selected Tom Payette, winemaking consultant, as its 2011 distinguished American wine industry recipient of the ASWA Perpetual Wine Grape Productivity Tray.  Since 1984, the Wine Grape Productivity Tray has been presented on an annual basis to an individual or organization that has made a major contribution to the sustainable growth and economic viability of the American wine industry.  Previous recipients of this prestigious honor have included United States Senator John W. Warner, Bruce Zoecklein, Women for WineSense, California and local television personality, Willard Scott.  Mr. Payette was presented the award at a reception on July 22nd held at the Regency at Dominion Valley Country Club in Haymarket, Virginia.

Tom Payette is a winemaking consultant based in Rapidan, Virginia.  With over 25 years of winemaking experience he assists clients with winery design and set-up, still and sparkling winemaking, and general winery issues.  In addition to serving clients throughout the United States, Spain, Canada and the Caribbean, Tom is also the Wine Tech columnist for Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine, noted international speaker and wine judge.  Mr. Payette can be contacted at 540-672-0387.

National Wine Bloggers Conference Announces 2011 Blog Awards

Jul 24

The fourth annual national Wine Bloggers Conference, held at the Omni in Charlottesville, VA, just concluded and announced its annual blog awards at a gala dinner Saturday night, which featured nine Virginia wines paired with food.

The conference, which sold out at over 340 attendees, was sponsored largely by the Virginia Wine Marketing Office, the Virginia Department of Tourism, and the Charlottesville Visitors Bureau.

The 2011 Wine Blog Awards are:

Best New Wine Blog: Terroirist, by David White.

Best Writing On a Wine Blog: Vinography, by Alder Yarrow.

Best Winery Blog: Tablas Creek, by Jason Haas

Best Single Subject: New York Cork Report by Lenn Thompson

Best Wine Reviews on a Wine Blog: Enobytes, by Marc Hinton and Pamela Heiligenthal

Best Industry/Business Wine Blog: Fermentation, by Tom Wark

Best Overall Wine Blog: Fermentation, by Tom Wark

Best Wine Blog Graphics, Photography, & PresentationVino Freakism, by David Brookes

Talks with attendees show a high level of satisfaction with how Virginia hosted the conference.  Melanie Ofenloch, a k a “Dallas wine chick.”, said “I feel that they absolutely rolled out the red carpet for us. It’s impressive that Virginia is taking winemaking very seriously and that they know they need to market Virginia wine to people out of state; they realize the payoff in educating bloggers about the region and the wines; I was pleasantly surprised.”

Virginia-focused activities included a pre-conference optional tour of Loudoun County wineries, a walking tour of the Grounds at the University of Virginia, a wine tasting on the lawn at Monticello, a seminar session on “Virgina Wine Industry’s History, Geology, and Business Climate,” a five hour long bus tour of three Virginia wineries, and the nine Virginia wines paired with the awards dinner.

Attendees came from around the country and even as far as the U.K. Even though 90% of them had tried Virginia wine in the past, some were impressed with how far they see wine quality having come, even in a few years. Cecilia Dominic is based in Georgia and has a blog titled “The Random Enophile”; she tasted in Virginia three years ago. Their bus went to 2 of the wineries they’d visited before and were not impressed with then. “Yesterday we were really impressed with them; they were very much improved. We’ve been impressed with VA in the past and we’re more impressed with them now; we hope Georgia wines will move in that direction.” She had been looking forward to tasting some good petit verdot and cabernet francs on this trip and was not disappointed; she finds they continue to do very well and meet her expectations for high quality.

Bill Eyer,a wine blogger based in San Diego, was very impressed with the Jefferson Vineyards reserve 2007 Chardonnay; “I’d never guess this was from Virginia,” he said, praising the finesse and fine acidity. “In Napa or Sonoma, this would be a $50 bottle,” he added, surprised at the $25 price. He was also very impressed with a Keswick cabernet sauvignon compared to the benchmark Napa cabernets.


Jul 12

On Thursday, July 14th at 7:00 pm ET, wine bloggers, winemakers, and general wine enthusiasts alike will sign onto Twitter and Facebook to “virtually” taste six of Virginia’s outstanding Viognier wines.

The wines will showcase Virginia’s signature grape in many different styles, from sparkling to still and dry to off-dry. The tasting order for this event will be Horton Vineyards NV Sparkling Viognier, Blenheim Vineyards 2010 Viognier, King Family Vineyards 2010 Viognier, Barboursville Vineyards & Winery 2009 Viognier Reserve, Cooper Vineyards 2010 Viognier, and Delaplane Cellars 2010 Maggie’s Vineyard Viognier.

Anyone can participate in this Virginia Viognier Virtual Tasting. To partake in this event, consumers can pick up a bottle of Viognier from one of the wineries listed above either through their local retail store or through the winery directly. Most of these Viogniers can also be found at local Kroger grocery stores. The event will take place from 7:00 – 9:00 pm ET and due to the nature of a “virtual tasting,” people anywhere in the world can participate. To follow the event and join in, just sign on to Twitter and follow the Twitter hashtags #VAWine and #VAViognier. Winemakers will be online to answer questions provided by consumers and wine bloggers throughout the event. Consumers are also encouraged to contribute by including pictures of the Virginia Viognier they are drinking to either Twitter or Facebook.

For more information about Virginia wine, visit